While it's still with a grain of salt, the world is finding out that what coach Hornacek. GM McDonough and Pres Babby predicted preseason might actually have been right: no tank in this team. And the parallels to the great 1988-89 Suns are too clear to ignore.

The Phoenix Suns are the best story of the year, the biggest overachievers in the NBA, and are making fans, analysts and front office folks across the league scratch their heads with confusion.

After beating the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers by a combined 42 points in the last three days, upping their season record to 17-10, more and more outlets are being forced to take notice.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

Only Chad Ford, life-long Suns hater who must have been bullied by a Suns front office guy in an alley once, still chooses to stick to months-old rhetoric saying that the Suns are still shopping for a tanking opportunity and that #1 pick next year (LOL, stay Chad, Chad!).

Still, the Suns don't have any established star players so the national love is often couched in "for now" undertones. There's no re-write of the national TV schedules to broadcast this fun team across the globe.

To get national recognition, these Suns are going to have to follow the post-Carmelo Denver Nuggets path and the Memphis Grizzlies path of recent years: national exposure starts in the playoffs.

You can go all the way back to the stone age, or in NBA terms, the 1988-89 season in which the Phoenix Suns, reeling from a drug scandal and roster purge, surprised the NBA and the city of Phoenix with one of the best basketball teams in the history of the league.

The Suns had just finished a 1987-88 season in which they struggled to a 28-54 record while shipping out half their roster at the trade deadline, including All-Star Larry Nance, for a promising point guard and underutilized center stuck behind All-Stars at their respective positions in Cleveland.

No one expected the Suns to do well in 1988-89, including the city of Phoenix. Yet they went a whopping 55-27 that year behind a two-headed point guard system (Kevin Johnson and Jeff Hornacek) with an sweet shooting power forward (Tom Chambers), a rebounding center (Mark West) and a host of supporting players including a sharp-shooting sixth man (Eddie Johnson).

How their season started was quite similar to this current Suns team:

  • In 1988, the Suns started 9-8; In 2013, the Suns started 9-8
  • In 1988, the Suns went on a 4-game winning streak to get to 15-10 and won 9 of 10 to get to 20-11; this year, the Suns started 10-9 before winning 7 of 8 to get to their current record of 17-10 and still counting...

While I wrote how the city is taking it's time to warm up to this year's Suns, the city did the same to that incredible team. Even while winning 55 games with the league's 2nd best offense and 5th best defense, fans still left the arena 20% empty on most nights. Overall, that season the Suns finished 20th of 25 teams in attendance.

It wasn't until the 1989-90 season - with a roster almost exactly the same as the year before - that fans filled the arena to capacity again.

So, don't fret Suns fans. Support always lags behind performance.

Speaking of performance, as the Suns languish at 25th of 30 teams in attendance to date, they were outperforming expectation like nobody's business.

As of Christmas, my preseason prediction was somewhere around 10 wins. Even last month after the 9-8 start, I predicted no more than 5 wins in December's tough schedule.

So I must take some heat for failing to properly predict the Suns' rise to prominence with a 17-10 record and no looking back.

When coach Hornacek famously predicted a scoring offense touching or exceeding 103 points per game, the nation chuckled. Last year, only five NBA teams scored 102.9 points or more per game. The Suns were coming off a season in which they scored on 95.2 and didn't add a single big-time scorer to their lineup.

"What did we average last year?" he asked our own Jim Coughenour. "Over 102.9, we would hope we can get there. If we can get there I think that's a good start for us in our first year. So, hopefully, I would say yes."

Talk about meeting expectations. Right now, the Suns are at 103.8 points per game, 7th overall in the NBA. Their pace is still slow (12 in the league), but their points per possession is 5th overall.

And they-re even playing defense - 16th in scoring defense, 17th in points-per-possession allowed - while scoring at levels not seen since a Canadian was running point with Amare Stoudemire the roll man.

A season after getting killed at the three-point line (29th in their own 3p% vs. 30th in 3p% allowed), they are killing the opposition with it (6th in their own 3p% vs. 2nd in 3p% allowed). And they're taking advantage of that: taking the league's 5th most 3s while allowing the 2nd fewest.

A season after having their top scorer get only 14.7 points per game, that same top scorer is now pouring in 19.0 per game with a lot more threats around him in the offense.

And a season after disappointing the masses, the Morris twins are playing like lottery picks.

"I'm a shooter. No doubt about it," Marcus Morris said in the preseason. "I had a good year in Houston when I shot almost 40% on three pointers. Whatever you need me to do, I'll do."

Marcus is now shooting 45.1% on 3.4 threes a game, good for second on the team to P.J. Tucker's 46.3%. Overall, the Suns have 7 players hitting better than 33% on threes (the league average) - all 7 are in the regular 9-man rotation. Only Miles Plumlee and Archie Goodwin aren't taking and making threes.

Markieff Morris has stepped up as well, in ways we never thought he would. A season after hanging around the three-point line for nearly 1/3 of all his attempts, he's living much closer to the basket this year. Now, only about 10% of his shots are three-pointers, and his true shooting percentage is up as a result.

As Jim noted, ALL the Suns are having career years. Yes, these Suns are exceeding expectations.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

PHOENIX — Things have changed since Mike D’Antoni left Phoenix after the 2007-08 season, but the former Suns coach knew that offense still reigned supreme inside US Airways Center. Asked...

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PHOENIX — In his first summer as the general manager of the Phoenix Suns, Ryan McDonough set his sights on finding the franchise’s center of the future. But for all his wheeling and dealing and...

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For the first time in ever Mike D'Antoni was upset at the lack of defense his team played at U.S. Airways Center...

Who doesn't like a win over the Los Angeles Lakers? the Phoenix Suns improve to 17-10 on the season with a 117-90 victory over the rival Lakers (13-15) to inch closer to the top of the Pacific Division standings.

Miles Plumlee led the way with 17 points and 20 rebounds. The 20 rebounds are a career-high for Plumlee and the points were just one off. The bench chipped in with 61 points led by Gerald Green's 22 points and Markieff Morris' 19 points. The bench was raining threes and so was the team as they went 14-32 from deep to run the Lakers off the court before the holiday break.

First Quarter

The first quarter was soooo Swaggy P I do not know how to put it into words. Instead of trying to artfully describe the play of Nick Young, here is a simple list of his accomplishments in the first quarter:

  • Missed fall-away leaning three-pointer at the top of the key
  • Attempted save off of Gerald Green that turned into a Suns lay-up. It was on the Suns side of the court with no Lakers around.
  • Technical foul for arguing
  • Missed fast-break lay-up
  • Stole a pass that was going to Jordan Hill for a lay-up that resulted in a turnover.

I think that about does it. It was magic.

Second Quarter

The Suns rained threes here with Gerald Green going 4-6 and Marcus Morris going 2-2 in the quarter leading to the Suns ballooning the lead up to 64-51 at the half. The line-up of Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, and Channing Frye has been a game-changer for the team all year with their energy and shooting. This game was no exception.

All of the momentum swung in the favor of the Suns this quarter with the shooting and energy that the team played with. At the half Miles Plumlee had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds bringing the energy on the glass on both ends.

Third Quarter

As bad as the Lakers defense was in the second quarter, the offense was that much worse in the third quarter scoring 17 points on 3-16 shooting as a team. The Suns had some highlights with Bledsoe connecting with Miles Plumlee on a dunk and the lead just kept growing. By the end of the quarter the Suns were up by 20+ points and Plumlee was working on a 20-20 night with points and rebounds.

Fourth Quarter

Two things worth note here:

1. Kendall Marshall played the final two minutes and looked like Kendall Marshall.

2. Dionte Christmas checked in and nailed a cold-blooded three in the face of the defense. It is definitely feeling a lot more like Christmas now. Happy Holidays folks.

If Gene Hackman does not coach this game I am going to be one disappointed basketball fan thanks to this metaphor land I am about to create...

As the Phoenix Suns (16-10) continue to build off of their bludgeoning all-star duo of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe the Los Angeles Lakers (13-14) are simply trying to field a team.

The Mash Unit as they are becoming in LA will be without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar are all out and Pau Gasol will be playing, but not at 100% as he is dealing with a health ailment. These are not the Lakers that anyone is used to seeing, you father, you, or your little brother. They are a Mash Unit filled with replacement players worthy of a Hollywood Movie.

I am surprised that Orlando Jones is not suiting up for this one or Keanu Reeves taking the helm as starting point guard. Maybe in Los Angeles. Maybe.

With all of the injuries the Lakers look a lot like the Suns did last year. A parade of players playing 15-25 minutes a game, nobody taking control as "the guy," and a coaching staff trying to be creative with what they have. To his credit, despite refusing to do so here in Phoenix, Mike D'Antoni has done a good job with the next man up strategy going deep into his bench to find players to produce. He has turned Nick Young and Xavier Henry into viable wing options that are playing pretty well on the season as a whole.

If anything has come from the injury to Bryant it is the play of Henry, a career resurgence. Henry is on pace to match or exceed his career numbers from the first three years of his career in the D'Antoni system.

Playing without a true point guard will make this a tough match-up for the Lakers.

They brought in Kendall Marshall as a body to play minutes, but as Suns fans know he is not the answer. Jodie Meeks ran the point last game and with that the team shot 32.5% from the field with 11 total assists. It will only get worse against the Suns with the two-headed monster on the perimeter of Dragic and Bledsoe.

Over the past eight games the duo are averaging 39.8 points, 10.4 assists, and 3.4 steals per game on 49.1% shooting, 42.0% from three.

Good luck, Lakers.

Preview Video Chat With Lakers Nation

Projected Starting Line-Ups

PG - Eric Bledsoe v. Jodie Meeks

SG - Goran Dragic v. Xavier Henry

SF - P.J. Tucker v. Wesley Johnson

PF - Channing Frye v. Shawne Williams

C - Miles Plumlee v. Pau Gasol

Potential Suns Inactives: Alex Len (Left Ankle, Game-to-Game) and Emeka Okafor (Neck, Out Indefinitely)

Potential Lakers Inactives: Kobe Bryant (Broken Leg, Out), Steve Nash (Back/Hamstring, Out), Pau Gasol (Respiratory Illness, Game Time Decision), Steve Blake (Right Elbow, Out), and Jordan Farmar (Left Hamstring, Out)

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